Heels dig in, knock off Cats by nine

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Every time Tyler Hansbrough caught the
ball in the post, Kentucky's players swarmed around him, swatting
at the ball.
The North Carolina big man did not retaliate to the bruising. He
responded at the free throw line.
Hansbrough made 10 of 12 free throws as the top-ranked Tar Heels
capitalized on Kentucky's 25 fouls and beat the Wildcats 86-77 on
Saturday, their fourth straight win in the annual matchup between
college basketball's winningest programs.
"I've never coached a player who takes as much physical abuse
as he does," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said of his star.
"He's a bull in the china shop, and all those pieces of china like
to hit back."
The Tar Heels are off to a 7-0 start for the first time under
Williams and the first time since the 1998-99 squad began the
season 8-0. Kentucky is now 4-2 under new coach Billy Gillispie.
With Hansbrough closely guarded, reserve Danny Green lead the
Tar Heels with a career-high 20 points.
"There's tradition and history on both sides, so it's a great
rivalry, even though we're not in the same league," Green said.
The plan to crowd Hansbrough backfired on the Wildcats, who
struggled to generate much rhythm against North Carolina's physical
and quick attack.
For the third straight year, Kentucky used a swarm defense to
largely limit Hansbrough from the field. Unlike the past two years,
in which he scored a combined 13 points, Hansbrough was a force at
the line.
He finished with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, his
third double-double of the season.
Gillispie suggested that Hansbrough wasn't the innocent victim
on all those fouls.
"I think sometimes the offensive player may initiate more
contact than the casual fan may think," Gillispie said.
Patrick Patterson, Kentucky's blue-chip freshman power forward,
held his own against North Carolina's tough frontcourt but got
little help from his teammates. Top shot-blocker Perry Stevenson
picked up his fourth foul with 8 minutes left in the first half,
and fouled out early in the second.
"Coach wanted a nasty game instead of a pretty game,"
Patterson said.
Gillispie said he was pleased with the effort. He surprisingly
even labeled Stevenson's performance the best of the year, despite
scoring only two points and playing just 8 minutes.
Hansbrough said Patterson did provide a challenge.
"He's a solid big man," Hansbrough said. "He's very physical
and he can get you into weird positions because they run so many
things to him."
Up 44-39 early in the second half, the Tar Heels went on a 13-0
run to put the game out of reach. Bobby Frasor finished the streak
with two 3-pointers, the last one silencing the Rupp Arena crowd as
he pumped his fist.
"They're going to play 40 minutes," Kentucky guard Michael
Porter said of North Carolina. "If we don't play for 10 seconds,
20 seconds, one minute, whatever it is, they're going to keep at
us."
Patterson ended the Kentucky drought by drawing a foul and
hitting one of two free throws, but that was Kentucky's first trip
to the line. By then, North Carolina had taken 14 free throws,
making 13.
Kentucky's defense helped the Wildcats play with North Carolina
early, but every time the Wildcats made a big basket, Green, a
junior swingman, seemed to have an answer.
He scored North Carolina's last 10 points of the first half,
eight of them in a span of just over a minute, using 3-pointers to
answer a 3 by Joe Crawford and a dunk by A.J. Stewart, then a layup
to answer Crawford's layup.
It was Green's sixth straight game scoring in double digits, all
as a reserve. His previous career high was 17 points on Nov. 19,
2005, against Gardner-Webb.
"I didn't make everything I took, but at one point I was in a
rhythm, took some open shots and made some big plays for my team,"
Green said.
On Friday, Williams doubted that Ty Lawson, the sophomore point
guard who missed the Ohio State game with a sprained ankle, would
be available against the Wildcats. He did play, providing his usual
spark, including a steal and fastbreak layup that generated energy
for the Tar Heels midway through their second half run.
While Lawson started, Kentucky's regular point guard, Ramel
Bradley, was not in the lineup for the tipoff. Bradley entered less
than 2 minutes in, but had only two assists. He did score 19
points, as did Patterson. Crawford led the team with 21.
The Tar Heels led 37-32 at halftime. Patterson scored the first
bucket of the second half to cut the deficit to three points, but
the Wildcats would get no closer.
Kentucky leads all Division I programs with 1,952 wins, while
North Carolina is second at 1,921. The teams have played 30 times,
with North Carolina winning 20 of them.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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